Jackson Creek Middle School

  1. PLC Story
  2. PLC Practices
  3. Achievement Data
  4. Awards
  5. Resources

Data Significance

          Truly becoming a Professional Learning Community with a focus on learning as our fundamental purpose, cultivating a collaborative culture, and using data and results to drive decision making has allowed us to see vast improvement in our student performance. This re-focusing through PLC has given us the parameters to learn as a group and do several things very well rather than trying to do multiple things in an average or simply acceptable way.

            In 2009-2010, when we began our Professional Learning Community journey, we were achieving, but certainly not to the level we were capable. From year one to year two, we saw a slight improvement, but an improvement nonetheless, in our Math and Language Arts ISTEP+ test scores for the 2010-2011 school year. Math scores grew overall by 2.9% and Language Arts went up 3.2 percent. These modest gains were a small indicator of what a guaranteed common curriculum that was devised thanks to a focus on data and collaboration could provide. Time was provided for teachers across our corporation to meet and come to consensus on Power Standards and Essential Learnings that clearly answered Question 1, “What should students know and be able to do?” That was a very powerful start where all involved could see how the PLC process and the Four Questions would serve as a guide moving forward. However, because we were still struggling in several sub group categories, we were still considered a “C” school by the Indiana Department of Education. We celebrated growth, but still were disheartened by the fact that we all knew that Jackson Creek was not a “C” school.

            At the very end of the 2011-2012 school year, we received our test data with great anxiousness as the PLC work we had done during the year was focused and collaborative. We received the scores that we were the highest achieving and highest growth middle school in the district. Our Math scores went up 5.8%, doubling the group from the previous year to 91.7% which was 10% higher than the state average. Language Arts grew 5.7%, which again substantially surpassed the previous year’s growth and put us at almost 8% over the Indiana state average. And although it is not calculated as part of the Department of Education Grade, students taking the Social Studies proficiency test achieved at a 14.7% higher rate than they did in the first year of PLC work. Jackson Creek Middle School students in 2011-2012 achieved at 14.4% higher than the state average for Social Studies. We are incredibly proud of these accomplishments.     

            Since this year, we have consistently been about 90% passing in our Math scores and our Language Arts scores have consistently been between 87% and 89%.  In each case, we have been at least 10% above the state of Indiana average in these areas.  In our Algebra End-of-Course statewide assessment, we have consistently passed at a rate of 100%, far exceeding the state average.          

            We have also gone to great lengths to analyze the ISTEP+ % passing scores for our various breakout groups. Areas we have seen specific growth in the last two years are with our Hispanic population in both ELA and Math.  With this specific breakout group, we saw a 10% increase in Math ISTEP+ scores in the past two years and a 7% increase in the ELA scores.  We also saw increase our free/ reduced lunch population, for ELA and Math, 2% and 8%, respectively.

Even in areas we have seen a recent statistical decline, we still have found positives. The first positive is the institution of the growth model and the idea that not only is student achievement measured, but also student growth. We have been able to better design and focus our programming to target instruction and meet the specific needs of our students. This data showed that we needed a refined focus on Special Education Language Arts instruction so we implemented a new schedule for our self-contained Special Education students with a new plan for their inclusion on a team with more intensive Language Arts instruction. This has also been tremendously exciting and has been a major benefit to students. It is a true example of focusing on student learning, building consensus through a collaborative culture, and making decisions based on results. Students are no longer in “resource” classes where they work on completing homework. Thanks to the Four Guiding Questions, students are now grouped based on their goals and more targeted instruction with more intense data monitoring can now occur. Teachers and students are both more focused on measurable improvement through the development and tracking of individual, class, and/or team SMART goals.  We attribute our improvement in our ELA special education scores to this.

PLC Impact on Students/Teachers

Over the period of time that Jackson Creek Middle School has been on the journey to become a Professional Learning Community, the culture and focus of the students, faculty, and staff has grown in a very positive way. Teachers have stated that the collaborative engagements they have now are something they have dreamed about their entire careers. The conversations are rich and focused. Decisions are no longer being made with hunches or good intentions. In the near twenty-year history of this school, we have always “teamed” Science, Social Studies, and Language Arts. The interdisciplinary collaboration has always been strong and time was set for common preps for team members to meet. Now, with PLC team meeting time cut out and a more deliberate schedule implemented, teachers of the same subject area can now have common prep time during contractual time to share data and strategies to ensure learning. And not just what we want students to learn, but truly what they cannot affort to not learn in order to be successful at the next level. The teachers in each common subject level have come together, unpacked standards, and have come to consensus on what standards have the most leverage and sustainability to support future learning. The results show this work has been valuable. For many years, the focus has been on teaching. Teachers would talk of how they planned a great lesson or how well they taught something. Today, the focus is on learning. Teachers have taken the responsibility that it is no longer just their job to teach, it is their responsibility to ensure learning. Becky DuFour said, "Teaching without learning is simply presenting." Our teachers are not longer presenting!

Students are also showing a greater level of focus and engagement. They have now been able to see that all work has value. They also see that when something is expected of them, they must rise up and accomplish it. If a student does not complete something, they are no longer given the chance to not do it. If a student does not learn something, they are no longer given the opportunity to not learn it. They are responsible for meeting expectations and being a responsible party in their learning. If they do not, they are given consequences that encourage it. If they cannot, they are given supports to accomplish it. Students are doing better work and doing more focused and structured work that is paying off with a higher level of growth and achievement.

As an administrator, I now have a new and higher sense of confidence that the “Teacher Lottery” where students can win or lose depending on what teacher they are assigned is over. Historically, it mattered greatly to parents what teacher their child had. Beyond personalities, some teachers got the reputation at being better or worse at preparing students for high school. With that came a great demand for students to be placed, or worse, not placed, in a certain teacher’s classrooms. Today, although we still account for personality conflicts and the like, I can all but assure parents that their children will have the same opportunities to learn the material that they need to be successful in future years, regardless of what teacher’s class they are assigned. The curriculum in our school and in our corporation as a whole is substantially improved thanks to being a high performing Professional Learning Community and the focus on the Four Guiding Questions.

We are very proud to be on the Professional Learning Community journey. After our test results came out, other middle schools in Indiana asked to visit and we have hosted multiple visits from other schools in our area and some even out of state. Becoming a Professional Learning Community and refocusing on student learning and data driven decision making has been a great positive. The culture of collaboration has allowed us to incorporate innovating scheduling and programming that truly meets student needs. Without question, Jackson Creek Middle School is an outstanding place for students to learn, and we can certainly thank our Professional Learning Community journey for helping us get there.

1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.

A.Pacing guide- district wide. Time was provided for teachers during the school year as well as guided time over the summer for teachers to answer the Four Guiding Questions. By answering the questions, teachers came to consensus, which was a challenging, but incredibly valuable task to answer what was more important for students to learn. Once that occurred, they discussed the logical timing and logistics and developed a pacing guide that will serve as a map for moving through the curriculum.

B.Coordinated common assessments in all departments- These assessments are located on a shared drive where all teachers district-wide can access them. These assessments then allow for data to be shared and critical conversations to be held to get resources and planning for improving learning, targeted interventions, and enrichment opportunities through data-based instruction.

C.Identification and tracking by interventionists. Our interventionists work with students after data is collected through common assessments. Those students who do not meet the criteria set by the departments for proficiency, work through a battery of re-teaching activities to ensure learning.


a)All students who did not pass the previous year’s standardized test are identified to work with the Interventionists.

2 .Vertical Communication with Elementary Schools

a)For math- We have all elementary school teachers fill out a form on all incoming middle school students. This method allows for us to further identify students and gather information, before the start of the year.

b) For Language Arts:

(1)Representative teachers from JCMS met to form the MCCSC Literature List. This document places novels and stories onto a centralized document so that each level (elementary, middle and high) have an accurate list as to which novels and stories have the possibility of being taught at that level.  If a teacher wants to place a new novel on the list, we coordinate with other schools to approve the request and then add it. 

(2)In the spring, the interventionist in our building meets with all of the feeder elementary schools.  The purpose is to meet with the students who did not pass the state standardized tests or who are flagged by their 6th grade teachers to better place them in classes in middle school.  The interventionist tests the students for fluency, decoding, comprehension, and writing needs and discusses 7th grade programming for those students.  In this way, students can be placed into intensive writing and reading classes with the interventionist in addition to their regularly scheduled language arts class.

(3)The ELA Interventionist participates in a district wide Literacy Cohort.  As part of this cohort, she has been active in discussions and plans to create a streamlined process of communication as students move through elementary, middle, and high school.  The cohort is working towards having this communication plan in place as soon as possible so teachers stay apprised of students' literacy needs.

c) For Science

(1) 6th grade adopted the same science book and kits as the middle school.  Students are also keeping a science lab notebook all three years.

4.Formative Assessments.

a) After our teachers give formative assessments in their classes, they identify students who need to learn particular skills again.  This communication takes place during our PLC team time on Wednesdays.
b)Re-teaching and retesting can take place during workshop times as described below.

2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.

  1. Workshop in teams
    1. Students who have been identified as needing extra assistance in their target goals through common assessments, classroom work, Acuity predictive testing, and observation are given an hour twice per week to work with their subject teacher (language arts, science and social studies) or another highly qualified teacher (inclusion or interventionist) to improve their skills. They are given additional instruction, practice and retesting during this time. This time is provided through the creation of a modified block schedule. As students show areas of success or deficiency, this “fourth” block of time outside the teamed areas of Science, Social Studies, and Language Arts allows for Guiding Questions 3 and 4 to be answered as students have access to their teachers, interventionists, special education teacher, and aides for both remediation/reteaching and enrichment during this time. The time and the goals are set by a group of teachers and aides that collaborate for the purpose of ensuring student learning. This is an exciting and creative opportunity for adults to support students in many ways.
    2. Students who have been identified as not needing additional instruction for their target goals are given this time as enrichment. These students meet with subject area teachers (language arts, science and social studies) to work on special projects, enrichment based extension of classroom activities and more in-depth study of their power standards.
  2. Office Hours
    1. On Tuesday of each week, we have 48 minutes at the beginning of our day set aside for an Advisory period which is in line with traditional middle school philosophy. Students are able to do activities with their Advisory teacher ranging from club meetings to anti-bullying programming. On Thursday of each week, we have what we call Office Hours. During PLC meetings the week prior, each teacher designates an offering topic. The topics include, but are not limited to: Targeted reteaching/remediation, enrichment, physical fitness, service opportunities, and counseling/group work. Teachers may assign students to these offerings. If a student is not assigned by Tuesday, they may self-select which offering they would like to attend. This time has proven to be incredibly valuable for students to get additional help from teachers during the school day. It has also allowed for improved responsibility as students obviously prefer choice rather than being assigned. It has led to students doing more, better, the first time through a class or particular lesson.
  3. Excel Team
    1. Falling in line with traditional middle school concepts, we team our students for Science, Social Studies, and Language Arts. We teamed the students that have historically been in self-contained classes in a hybrid setting that has allowed for growth and success. By doing this, students are better prepared for integration/inclusion onto the general education teams when their academic progress warrants such a move. This team of teachers has become a strong student-centered PLC team and has used that strength to develop scheduling and protocols for working with this population.
  4. Math interventionist classes
    1. Students who have been identified as needing Tier 2 and 3 math support work in small groups or 1 on 1 with highly qualified teachers. This extra class time is broken up into the following categories:
      1. Filling Gaps: After assessing students, we pinpoint and work with students on specific math skills they are lacking that they should have learned in previous grade levels. We use data from Exact Path and common formative assessments, as well as a computer program called ALEKS to pinpoint these skills.
      2. Pre-teaching: In these extra math classes, students learn skills they are about to learn in their general education classrooms. Through our Math PLC, because we are all teaching the same standards around the same time, our math interventionist is able to make sure struggling students are introduced to these skills before they learn them in their regular math classes.
      3. Our math interventionist works with all of the general education math teachers in their classes three days a week on a priority schedule. During this time, students who have shown deficiencies have access to smaller group time. Because of this time, there is great flexibility in the students that can have access to interventions without interfering in their overall schedule.
      4. Re-teaching: After giving a formative assessment, we compare data in our PLC and identify students who are having trouble/have not mastered a certain standard to work with our math interventionist during class at appropriate times on this skill. Then, students are able to retake the assessment.
  5. L.A. interventionist classes
    1. Students who have been identified as needing Tier 2 and 3 E.L.A. support work in small groups or 1 on 1 with highly qualified teachers. During this time, students are explicitly taught comprehension, decoding, and writing strategies during various grading periods. Additionally, students have an opportunity to benefit from re-teaching on specific language arts skills as identified through Exact Path or common formative assessment data.
    2. Students who did not pass the state-wide assessment and demonstrated a need for writing support are placed in a one semester writing class in addition to their regular language arts class. This class maintains a small teacher to student ratio of 10:1 or less. Students learn by writing from mentor texts and teacher modeling. This class allows struggling writers to receive focused, individual writing feedback.

6. LEAP Class

  1. This year-long required course is intended to provide the opportunity for JCMS Academic Interventionists to work with individuals and small groups on academic areas of weakness identified utilizing standardized tests, classroom work or Individual Education Plans (IEP) as determined by the Annual Case Review. Students will work on targeted academic skill areas in order to reach a higher level of success and independence.  In addition to beginning class with large group vocabulary development, students will spend the majority of class in small groups to focus on mathematics, reading, and/or writing development according to their needs.

7.  Make-up Mornings

      On Tuesdays and Thursdays teachers may assign students to a morning work time for 25 minutes in order to make up missing work, retake tests, or relearn a priority standard.  This is staffed with school professionals who work closely with the students in their classes.  Our goal is to help students acheive at high levels at all times.

3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.

  1. Weekly PLC team meeting time provided by Corporation
  2. Regular PLC Capacity Building activities such as article discussions and data shares. 
  3. Weekly Team Teachers’ meetings where teachers have the actual time to work as departments and work on Power Standards and Formative Assessment to guide instruction.
  4. Faculty Learning Meetings where discussion can occur to improve instruction and data can be shared to identify students who may need help or who may benefit from enriching activities. Lists of dates and announcements typical of old fashioned “faculty meetings” that can be shared via other avenues are relegated to emails and memos making the time more meaningful and valuable.
  5. Breakfast Club: twice per month, teachers attend a Breakfast Club Meeting in the morning during their contractual time, but prior to student arrival in the building.  This time is for administrators or teacher leaders to present quick professional development or schoolwide goals to the staff.
  6. Readings provided by administrators
  7. Off-site Workshops
  8. Technology Learning Meetings with our digital instructional coaches.

Additional Achievement Data

  Math at JCMS Math Indiana Average Language Arts at JCMS Language Arts Indiana Average Social Studies at JCMS Social Studies Indiana Average          
Year 11-12 91.70% 81.30% 87.30% 79.40% 84.90% 70.50%            
Year 12-13 93.60% 83.00% 89.80% 79.50% 87.80% 72.10%            
Year 13-14 91.80% 83.50% 88.30% 80.70% 85.40% 72.40%            
Year 14-15 72.50% 61.00% 80.30% 67.30% *** ***            
Year 15-16 71.30% 58.90% 79.10% 66.10%                
Year 16-17 71.10% 58.50% 77.10% 65.20%                
ISTEP % Passing: Breakout Groups                    
  Free/ Reduced Special Education Black Hispanic White Multi-Racial
  Math ELA Math ELA Math ELA Math ELA Math ELA Math ELA
2012 75.9 73.9 75 56.3 69.2 69.2 94.1 88.2 92.4 87.4 82.6 86.4
2013 79.4 71.5 62.2 44.4 89.6 61.5 83.3 73.7 93.7 90.4 100 100
2014 76 71.8 53.3 48.9 84.6 61.5 92.9 92.6 91.6 87.7 86.4 90
2015 44.8 56.6 28.1 37.5 ** ** 84 83.3 73.4 81.2 61.8 79.4
2016 38.8 58 19.4 37.3 ** ** 90.9 73.9 69.6 80.1 72 81.8
2017 46.6 60.2 29.3 34.6 ** 52 94.3 90.9 63.3 72.4 72 79
  • During our second full year of PLC implementation and third year overall, our school went from an Indiana Department of Education “C” school after our 2010-11 school year, to an “A” school after our 2011-12 school year! 
  • Our students feed 100% into an All Things PLC School-Bloomington High School South.
  • We currently have 48 8th graders actively participating in our National Junior Honor Society.
  • We currently have 368 students, 65% of our total population, enrolled in a World Language course offerings (Spanish, French, or Chinese) that are taught at either the year 1 or year 2 high school level.
  • We currently have 134 students, 24% of our total population, in the Accelerated Learning Program (ALPS).
  • Various city and county athletic championships for individuals and team sports.
  • School honored for placing third in EPA’s National Energy Conservation contest for building energy efficiency efforts.
  • School recognized for participating in various philanthropic endeavors making donations to Riley Hospital for Children, American Red Cross, and the Bloomington Olcott Cancer Center where we have raised $16,713.39 over a seven-year period to support cancer patients in our community. 
  • Jackson Creek Middle School has had a total of 10 certified staff members (7 teachers and 3 administrators) that have been recognized over the last 10 years by the Bloomington Chamber of Commerce and Franklin Initiative as Local Educators of the Year. Over the last several years, if a person wins this award, they are able to travel to a Solution Tree-sponsored event for professional development. We’ve had several teachers be able to do this.We have one administrator that has been recognized as the 2015 IASP District 9 Principal of the Year and many other staff members that have received local or state awards in their areas.